Wednesday, November 7, 2012

“Keeping it simple”

It is arguably a trait manifested by leaders and could be as rare as leadership? Supposedly high-end supermarkets in the US have had to recall their own store brands because of salmonella illnesses, a job for the leadership? The Clinton speech during the Democratic convention was credited for giving Obama the “convention bounce.” He keeps things simple and his exposition of ideas comes across, even to the opposition, with ease and grace because of the poetry in his prose – even when extemporaneous. In contrast, Obama’s performance in the first debate with Romney was unpresidential. Supposedly the most powerful person, briefed on major national and global issues on an ongoing basis not to be in command of them makes his leadership suspect?

The trait is ever present in the corporate world. At GE, for instance, the succession plans Jack Welch had and his ultimate choice of his successor confirmed that GE is a great school for leaders – as those who didn’t get the job became CEOs themselves in similarly high-profile companies. I’ve seen it during my years with an MNC and how senior executives would readily identify managers we would move around the world. And the next question would always be: who do we assign in her place. And across the board the leaders that were groomed for senior jobs were clear thinkers. They could “keep it simple” – and truly lead their organizations knowing where and how to get the people focused, on the right things.

And in the Philippines this reality is present too; whether it is “Tatang” Sy or Ramon Ang, head honchos like them come across as clear thinkers. And it brings us to the saga of the North Rail! Not again! Where is the outrage that we are once again going to the international arbitration court? We haven’t resolved NAIA 3 yet! We have become so callous about incompetence that we can’t even get biddings of projects done right? And so projects are left in limbo! Is corruption behind the incompetence and so it is in fact incompetence by design?

Could leaders be clear thinkers because there is integrity in their thinking? Which means they won’t simply compromise? And isn’t corruption a product of being unhinged that opens the door wide open for compromise? Unfortunately, when we call for compassion or inclusive or nuanced or whatever, the downside side is it opens up more not less compromise and sooner than later corruption has already reared its ugly head? "P101.8B lost to graft," blares the Manila Bulletin, 5th Oct 2012. "COA lists 19 government schemes to siphon off taxpayers' money."

On the other hand we believe libel in the cyber law is a priority – a clear and present danger? – but couldn't hide our bias against the anti-money laundering legislation? Indeed our society is dictated by the aims of our elites – and that to be a paid lackey is not uncommon that even senators talk openly about it? Is poor Juan de la Cruz ever to worry about libel or which foreign account to keep the less than $2-a-day he makes? In the meantime we keep pointing an accusing finger at others and hidethe embarrassment of being economic laggards yet when one comes down to it, PHL is about a hierarchical society that lends itself to abuse and finding solace behind the skirt of Christian charity?

We must capitalize on the new look foreign investors are giving us (thanks to “daang matuwid”) if we want those potential new investments to materialize? And we must have clear-thinking leadership to move critical infrastructure and strategic industries forward? Unfortunately, major projects are in limbo? Or power: should RE be in our portfolio to address (a) power shortage and (b) costs? Whatever it is, as a legislator laments, vested interests are fighting to preserve the status quo! With the world moving forward, the status quo means PHL is kept behind – as our laundry list of challenges expands. And that is a very bad sign because it is moving us farther away from economic development while perpetuating a lopsided economy – with poverty and oligarchy representing two sides of the same coin.

We have our job cut out for us; we can't keep shooting ourselves in the foot and face the world from a position of weakness – that we are a small underdeveloped nation. We can't pigeon-hole ourselves as such which, unfortunately, we carry because of our hierarchical culture? We are what we are because of decades of missteps that we must correct. We can’t be forever young?

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